Let the Children Come to Me!
Pentecost 23 Trinity Lutheran Church
23 October 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. Luke 18:9-17
Baptism of Caige Leroy Haertel
“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
Well, thanks be to God that those reprimanding and scolding disciples aren’t here today! Seriously! Uncle Jake, Uncle Adam, and Uncle Kolby would have taken them to task. The three uncles would have put to point of their cowboy boots in a specific part of the disciples’ rear ends, bloodied their noses, and blackened their eyes. And so would you. Well, maybe not to that extreme. But you know what I mean.
This really is outrageous! Can you imagine disciples – DISCIPLES OF ALL PEOPLE — giving Chris and Lyndee a feverish tongue lashing for daring to bring their little baby Caige to Jesus for holy Baptism so that Jesus would touch him and give him the gift of salvation? As if Caige had no use of Jesus or that Jesus has nothing to give little Caige! “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
Well, you’re not the only ones offended by these too-big-for-their-britches-and-know-it-all-disciples. Look who else is totally furious! It’s the Lord Jesus Himself! Mark’s account, which we heard in Holy Baptism’s liturgy today, tells us that Jesus is righteously angry (Mk 10:14) – BIGLY ANGRY — with these knucklehead disciples! I mean it doesn’t get any worse than this. Disciples doing their darndest to separate sinners from the Savior-of-sinners-Jesus! Trying to keep sins away from the Lord’s Good Friday forgiveness. Trying to keep the lost from heaven. Trying to keep those who desperately cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” apart from the Lamb of God Jesus who has come specifically to give divine mercy! Who would ever do such a thing? Would you?
You’d better not. Don’t listen to the disciples, at least not at this point in their internship. It’s always best to listen to Jesus. To let Him have the say so. “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” Did you hear that? Good. DO NOT PREVENT THEM from ever coming to Jesus! Or don’t ever keep them away from Jesus!
Oh, but there’s more. “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” TO SUCH BELONGS THE KINGDOM OF GOD? Even the babies? Yes, especially the babies. Jesus didn’t leave them out of His Kingdom-of-God-Good-Friday dying for all sin and every sinner. Not even Caige. Jesus died for him. Like He died FOR YOU AND FOR ALL. The kingdom of God – the reign of God Himself on the earth on the throne of the cross in the crucified and bleeding divine body of Jesus — is for all sinners no matter what their age or who they are. The kingdom of God – God’s Good Friday forgiving reign — is to be delivered to all for who Jesus died. Whether they’re tax collectors or another Haertel baby.
Salvation is a pure gift. Entirely a donation. From the Lord Jesus to His sinners. He does the Good Friday dying. All by Himself. With no help from anyone, let alone you. He bestows His divine and saving name in holy Baptism. Like He did with Caige today. Caige did absolutely nothing. Caige didn’t object. He was simply given to by the Lord Jesus. Given all of Christ’s Good Friday forgiveness with the divine name hooked with the water. That’s precisely why Jesus goes on to say: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Did you hear that? The kingdom of God can only be received – PASSIVELY! Like the Lord Jesus giving His reign of salvation to Caige today with the Triune Name at his baptism. Again, Caige did nothing. He was simply given to. Faith is always given to. Faith speaks only of what it’s given or what it trusts. And that’s Jesus. That’s how salvation works. That’s how salvation’s delivery works.
Insist on a do-it-yourself-salvation and… well … you spoil the gift. Ruin it. In fact, you lose it! Like the Pharisee who insisted on earning salvation by being supposedly better than everyone else, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” What wouldn’t he admit? The truth! He wouldn’t confess that he was a sinner that anxiously needed Jesus the Savior! And where did that get him? He wasn’t justified before God at all! The gift of salvation was spurned! It was lost.
Better hear Jesus one more time. Just so you get it salvationly straight. “Truly, I say to you,” Jesus categorically declares, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Let Caige be the glorious example of that today for you. It’s all gift. Being given to by the Lord. Salvation’s achievement on the cross. And salvation’s bestowal in holy Baptism. Infant baptism is a wonderful example of what it means to be saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus.
That’s why Peter and the rest of the disciples changed their tune. They learned their lesson. No longer did they rebuke parents for bringing their babies to Jesus. Instead, they exhorted them to do just that. And one of the ways that is done is holy Baptism. In Acts 2:38-39 Peter preaches this baptismal sermon to sinners: “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and for your children and for all….” The delivery of salvation with the divine name – forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit – is even for the kids! Even for Caige! Peter says that! He learned it from the Lord!
So, Uncles Jake, Adam and Kolby, keep your cowboy boots on the ground. Keep them where they belong. And as you promised today together with Caige’s aunts along with Brad and Julie, help Caige to live in and from his baptism by daily repenting of his sins. Encourage him to use Jesus every day for forgiveness and most especially on Sundays to hear the gospel, the absolution and to eat and drink Christ’s Good Friday Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper with faith. Be examples to him of what it means to lead a holy and God-pleasing life according to God’s Word. You must do that. You promised. Do not hinder little Caige from being brought to Jesus after his baptism. Make sure he goes to Sunday School and to church regularly. Support and reinforce Chris and Lyndee in their parenting duties by listening to Jesus.
“Let the children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
Happy Baptism Day Caige! Happy living in your Baptism! Dittos to all of you here the baptized at Trinity!
In the Name of Jesus.